Competition for Vikings WR4 Spot Is Bursting

Competition for Vikings WR4 Spot Is Bursting
Albert Wilson

Not long ago, men like Jeff Badet, Chad Beebe, Dillon Mitchell, and Brandon Zylstra competed for the Minnesota Vikings WR4 roster spot. Now, the competition for the same position is filled with more exciting names and is seemingly bursting.

On Tuesday, the Vikings signed veteran wide receiver Albert Wilson to a one-year contract, ensuring the WR4 battle would be fought within a crowded house this summer.

With Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn presumed the “big three” for starters, these are the contenders for WR4 at the beginning of June [in alphabetical order].

Bisi Johnson

Justin Jefferson / Bisi Johnson
Nov 29, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) laughs with wide receiver Bisi Johnson. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Suddenly a four-year veteran in the NFL, Johnson was probably the guy who “felt it” most when Minnesota signed the aforementioned Wilson on Tuesday. Johnson was already facing a challenge from the next couple of men on the list to snag the WR4 gig, and now his climb is steeper.

A 7th-Round draft pick back in 2019, Johnson made a bit of noise in his rookie season, especially for a late-round pick, tallying 294 receiving yards on 31 targets from quarterback Kirk Cousins. He was the defacto WR3 for the Vikings in the 2019 season.

Since then, however, Minnesota has bolstered the WR room, and Johnson could be the odd man out. He missed all of 2021 due to a torn ACL on top of it all.

Thankfully for his sake, Cousins complimented his skillset last week, a decent omen for the 25-year-old.

Jalen Nailor

How Rookie WR Jalen Nailor Fits with 2022 Vikings
Jalen Nailor

A rookie, Nailor has the most mysterious “what could happen” forecast of all four contenders. He could reasonably make the 53-man roster and make an impact — or he could live on the practice squad for the 2022 season.

He was the only wide receiver drafted by general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in April’s draft. WR coach Keenan McCardell reportedly “pounded the table” for the Michigan State alumnus. And last week, the ‘Voice of the Vikings,’ Paul Allen, advanced a theory suggesting Nailor could win the WR3 job.

Nailor, unlike Johnson, is a big-play threat as he registered 18.8 yards per reception in his final season as a Spartan. Summer will determine if he’s an example of rookie hype or the Vikings true-blue WR4.

Ihmir Smith-Marsette

Jan 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Considered the most as the frontrunner for the WR4 job, Smith-Marsette showed a few flashes of zeal in 2021 as a rookie. He also returns kicks, so that assuredly helps his stock to a) Make the 53-man roster b) Grab the WR4 job.

Smith-Marsette doesn’t have a warrantise to win the WR4 job, though. Because he is young and attended college in somewhat close proximity to Minnesota (Iowa), fans know him. He was a sexy “breakout” nominee during the 2021 season. And when he scored twice as a rookie, folks felt vindicated.

The WR4 job is probably Smith-Marsette’s to lose as he, like Nailor, has a more dynamic upside than run-or-the-mill receivers.

Albert Wilson

Jun 16, 2021; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports.

The newcomer to the fray, Wilson spent four seasons with the Alex Smith version of the Kansas City Chiefs from 2014 to 2017. He then trekked to Miami, manning WR3 and WR4 roles.

Wilson also has kick and punt-returning history from his days at Georgia State, so perhaps his onboarding to the Vikings has grander plans. During his career, Wilson has been targeted 3.75 times per game, averaging 28.1 yards in those contests.

As the new man on the team — with a non-guaranteed contract — he could make a name for himself this summer or eventually become a mundane roster cut.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).